The Champions League started with an upset with the local team Highveld Lions beating the more fancied Mumbai Indians. It was a game where the margin was not a big one and could have been even less if Tendulkar and Pollard had continued batting.
The essence of a winning team is good solid partnerships be it in bowling or batting. Often, it is the bowling partnership that decides the outcome of the game, and though, the ultra short format of the game does not allow for major partnerships in bowling, because a bowler can only bowl four overs it can make a difference if used well. If a team has a good pair of new ball bowlers, then four out of the mandatory six field restriction overs can be managed.
It is here, that skippers look to have their best bowlers bowling and then keep them for the final overs where again, their skill and experience can help cramp the batsman looking to hit the big shots. Mumbai Indians were perhaps not too sure about how match fit Zaheer Khan was, for he would have then opened the bowling with Lasith Malinga.
Malinga is not just a fabulous death overs bowler but also has the ability to pick up early wickets which can put the batting side under pressure straightaway. Unfortunately he too had an off day and was more expensive than he usually is. Mumbai Indians also need to make more use of Pollard up the order. If he can bat for eight to ten overs, then the score will multiply rapidly but somehow, he is looked upon as a death overs specialist with the bat just like Malinga is with the ball.
They now have to win their remaining games to give themselves a chance of qualifying for the semi- finals. The Chennai Super Kings on the other hand, began well winning the game comfortably against the Central Stags who look a pretty inexperienced side.
The side from New Zealand certainly has the enthusiasm, but will have to play above themselves to make an impact in this tournament. They are missing the experience and big hitting ability of Ross Taylor and it is thus understandable, why their supporters are crying at the Royal Challengers Bangalore for keeping him with them.
The Victorian outfit were the ones expected to win last years competition, but they were undone by the slow pitches in India. Here in South Africa, they will enjoy themselves since the pitches are pretty similar to what they get in Australia.
They also have some experienced players in this format and the only handicap will be the fact that, some of them will be coming in from the cold of the off season and so, it may not be easy for them to get going immediately.
The Warriors is the other South African team and they have started well winning their first game and will relish the support they will get from the local crowd. They were in a spot of bother against the Wayambas, but Boucher used his experience to steer them home.
The tournament is just warming up like the weather here and looks like being better contested than last year.